SRINAGAR: Sunday has always been a busy working day for Khursheed Ahmad Sofi. An artificial jewelry vendor who sells anklets and bracelets to tourists in Dal Lake, Khurhseed decided to skip his work on Sunday for a cause. A sole breadwinner of his family, the 30-year-old joined other villagers and activists to rid Sofi Mohalla of solid waste.
More than three quintals of solid waste were removed from the lake bed on that day. It was for the first time that environmentalists and experts cleaned up the hamlet which is just a few kilometers away from Nehru Park.
“During peak season, I earn Rs 1000 to Rs 1500. Sunday is the day when we do brisk business. This Sunday, I decided to take an off and join a cause. We went around and collected plastics, polythenes, and other waste. It was for the first time such an initiative was launched in our village,” said Khursheed.
Many firsts were created on that day. For the first time, Eco Development Committee (EDC) was created in Dal Lake for the conservation of the water body.
“This is the first-ever EDC in Dal lake. We divided this conservation model into three categories — children, youth, and elders. We visited this small hamlet and interacted with the people. After preparing the ground, we brought our green ambassadors and administration. All of us joined hands and cleaned up the area,” Nadeem Qadri, J&K consultant, Earth Day Network (EDN).
What came as the proverbial icing on the cake is that the village is all set to be declared the first green village inside Dal Lake.
“I received a call from our office in Washington and they assured me of all support for certifying Sofi Moholla as a green village. EDA will formally give them certification on April 22. It will be the first green village inside Dal Lake. It is a small hamlet with a population of 70 people,” said Nadeem.
Spread over an area of 25 sqkm, the lake comprises floating gardens, built-up landmasses with human settlements, and houseboats. Divided into three basins — Hazratbal, Bod-Dal, and Nigeen, the lake is the source of drinking water for a large chunk of the population.
According to the 2020 report of the J&K Pollution Control Board, Srinagar city generates 201 million liters of sewage daily. However, only 53.8 million liters can be treated from the existing resources. Around 73 percent of the 201 million liters of sewage generated in the city goes into Dal Lake or Jhelum.
Jammu and Kashmir government launched `Save Dal Project’ in 2005 to conserve the lake. However, the health of the water body is still a matter of concern.
“Our crusade for Dal lake conservation will continue. We are taking a Bollywood actor to the village this Sunday. He will join our efforts,” said Nadeem.